Chacron's picture
Chacron from England, South Coast is reading Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb March 29, 2014 - 2:24pm

I've never experienced this before. Wondering if anyone else has...

Completed my first novel recently, and decided that before I get going on the sequel I've had planned for a while, I was going to write something completely different as a way of clearing my head. I had some characters in mind, a few ideas about what to do with them, a basic plot and an idea of where I want to end up. I started to play with them, but it's like I can't get back into the mentality of writing a first draft after such a long time of being in redrafting/perfecting mode.

I shouldn't care that the structure will be a mess because I can't decide where to put what straight away. I should just be playing with the ideas and having some fun with them without worrying about how readable it would be to anyone else, and certainly not considering whether or not the story's good for any purpose. But it's like I just can't do it. I found myself editing and wiping stuff out after getting just 2.5K down this afternoon. Yeah I went from thinking to 'This is shit and I'm wasting my time' to 'Okay, this might just work' but I never even used to do that on a first draft. I'll probably get the old vibes back the further I get into this one. I'm expecting it to come it at around 80K (short by my standards, and a lot more simple than what I've worked on for the last three years) but to get there in the first place I need to stop feeling so goddamn serious about it all.

Anyone else ever had anything like this?

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal March 29, 2014 - 2:43pm

well, i'm far from an accomplished expert or anything, but that's the only way i can write a 1st draft.  who sits down and just goes for that long?  i can't.  i can't even do things in order.

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore March 29, 2014 - 4:07pm

I have, but that's how I write all the time, constantly editing to feel good about what I've written (though I spend lots of time outlining in advance instead of aimless drafting). If this is troublesome to you, I'd suggest writing longhand for a while (or try an app like iA Writer), which'll help keep you focused on just the current line and resisting the urge to edit what came before.

Tim Johnson's picture
Tim Johnson from Rockville, MD is reading Notes From a Necrophobe by T.C. Armstrong March 30, 2014 - 10:04am

I think my writing method is in line with Gordon's. 90% of my writing process is editing. The trick is to not allow myself to get too attached to things. But I'm at home in just throwing a very rough sentence down and then expanding it to multiple paragraphs and passages. It's just how my brain works.

But, I wonder if what you're experiencing, Tommy, is the fact that you've just seen a ton of improvement in your skills since you've begun your last story. Working on Shadow's Talent for so long, you've become a much better writer, so finding that place to begin again is naturally going to be difficult. I think you'll be pleased to find your next first draft will be better than your last first draft. Your first drafts are only going to get better.

However, it's been a while since you've seen your first draft writing, so it may be a problem with recognizing it and accepting it for what it is.

I really don't know. I'm just posting to encourage you to keep going and assure you that you will find your way. Writing a novel is hard work. Recovering from it is also very hard, and not many people talk about that.

Chacron's picture
Chacron from England, South Coast is reading Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb March 30, 2014 - 11:57am

Recovering from it is also very hard, and not many people talk about that.

 

That's exactly what this is, really! I'm buzzing with ideas about where to take a sequel with Shadow, and I feel like I'm so used to his voice as the narrator that I should get on with it, yet I can't bear another minute with him right now, plus I've sent the novel to a bunch of my friends and I'm just waiting for one of them to point out a mistake I've got to go back for, so I told myself no new writing on that project until at least June. Perhaps my birthday present to myself can be to allow me to start Shadow's Revenge (a title I don't like but I just can't come up with anything better right now.)

This new project is actually a new and much more expanded version of my Teleport Us story (which looking back at now I really don't like at all, but I still like those characters) It's set on the same forbidden planet Shadow dreams of reaching one day but none of that series is referenced - it's kind of my exercise in world building, and some of the concepts behind it are a little bonkers, but I really want to try something where I develop a completely different voice. I'm sort of reaching for a style I used years ago, which is why I've gone for 3rd person present with the possibility of one or two characters telling their past as 1st person chapters (a bit like Hyperion by Dan Simmons). I'll workshop bits of it when I've got it down and want to see if certain things work.

However, it's been a while since you've seen your first draft writing, so it may be a problem with recognizing it and accepting it for what it is.

Yeah, I dare not even look at the 300k that became the Talent Show series now. I know my brain will just die.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami March 30, 2014 - 2:34pm

If it's a short story, I usually start with a poem first that gives me a theme to go by. And then I use that theme for plotting a chapter as mini-story for ten chapters outline.

Just starting out, if you haven't written for a long time I usually do a slow and steady method. Some days I might get as much as 1,000 words done. On another 500 words.